Cebu oil spill ‘manageable’-A A +A
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
CEBU CITY (Updated) -- Expert divers hired by 2GO Group assured on Wednesday that the oil spill affecting at least three areas in Cebu is “manageable,” saying the oil coming out from the sunken ferry M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas is “very minimal.”
Captain Daniel Sarmiento, salvage master of Malayan Towage, said that in their first dive Thursday, they observed two leaks from the sunken ferry but managed to plug one of them to prevent more oil spill.
He said they will resume their operation on Thursday, hoping to seal the other leak.
Sarmiento assured that the situation is manageable. He said their next plan would be to remove all the fuel from M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas, but admitted it would take them two weeks to remove all the tanks containing the oil.
M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas was carrying 20 tons of diesel oil and 120 tons of bunker fuel when it collided with cargo vessel M/V Sulpicio Express Siete and sank near Lauis Legde in Cebu on August 16.
“The fuel can be removed without an oil spill again,” assured Angelito Salvio, assistant vice president of 2GO Group, which hired Malayan Towage to help contain the oil spill.
Expert divers from Japan have also been tapped to help in the operation.
Reports from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday, however, that the oil spill, which was observed a day after the accident, has already affected five to 10 hectares of Cordova town’s coastal area.
The PCG is still trying to apply chemicals to disperse the oil, but admitted possibility of the spill reaching Cebu City’s shores if they will not be contained.
Based on the oil spill mapping conducted by the PCG Thursday afternoon, the spill was found to have travelled about two kilometers from the accident site to Tongo Island. In Shell Island, the spill’s severity, however, is still low, but the PCG said the oil might reach Pier 1, 2 and 3 if not prevented.
The PCG said the spill is no longer going toward Lapu-Lapu City, as it was trapped in Cordova’s mangroves. Earlier reports said that at least 12 barangays in Cordova town have been affected by the oil spill.
In case the oil reaches Cebu City’s shores, Mayor Michael Rama assured that the City has been preparing measures, including declaring a state of calamity in the city.
Rama said the command center will also continue to operate while salvage operations are ongoing.
Aside from the oil spill, the accident off the coast of Talisay City, Cebu has killed at least 71 passengers. Authorities reported that 49 of the 870 passengers of M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas remained missing.
No new survivor was found on the fifth day since the accident; instead six bodies were retrieved from the sunken ferry on Thursday. (Jean Mondoñedo-Ynot/Sunnex)